Forbidden Worlds & Adventures into the Unknown Vol. 10 Richard Hughes, editor

A striking cover adorns volume 10 of Forbidden Worlds: the story is ‘The Old and the New’; it shows a man in a party hat raising a glass to fellow guests. We don’t see the guests, but only their hands which are raised in alarm – they’ve witnessed (as he hasn’t) a plane in flames plunging towards the window, which is clearly going to kill them all. Who could resist picking up a comic like that? Not this excited 12-year-old, when I saw a British reprint of the book in my boyhood, and the tale – along with everything else here (some misfires apart) — delivers handsomely with gentle, resolutely non-horrific fantasy tales. Ironically, when one thinks about this cover (drawn by Ogden Whitney), there’s nothing supernatural about it – but that element is certainly in the tale itself. Everybody likes to extol the virtues of unsung literary heroes, and I have a personal dilly: it’s Richard Hughes, the workhorse editor of the fondly remembered comics line, ACG. And if you want to know the reason why I sing the praises of this forgotten master at every opportunity (whether people like it or not), I suggest you pick up the latest volume in the excellent series (curated by Peter Crowther of PS Artbooks) collecting the runs of Hughes’ two tentpole titles, Forbidden Worlds; the other, of course, is Adventures into the Unknown. At this point in that reissue trajectory, we’re up to volume 10, and the handsome hardback of FW collects issues 59 – 64 from 1957 to 1958, when Hughes was absolutely at his peak as writer/editor, as was his stable of ace illustrators, notably his star penman Whitney.

Earlier issues of this title and its companion were part of the much-censored horror comics phenomenon and they have a gruesome charm, but Richard Hughes was really at his best in this kind of material. It gets my highest recommendation. Adventures into the Unknown Vol. 10 is still in the less intriguing horror period, but has the novelty of faux-3D; The shortlived ‘TrueVision’ simply has black borders for the pages, with action (clutching hands, for instance) straying into the black area. Ogden Whitney tales? Only one.

Forbidden Worlds & Adventures into the Unknown Vols #10 are published by PS Artbooks

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